Steve Smith has the last word
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tye Hill didn't back down from Steve Smith during the game. Or afterward, even after giving up a 68-yard touchdown reception to the star Carolina wide receiver.
Hill said Smith did a lot of talking during the game. Such as?
"A little of this, a little of that," Hill said. "But I was saying a little of this, a little bit of that. I wanted to let him know he wasn't going to intimidate me."
Smith was riled up during the week about comments Hill allegedly made after the Rams-Panthers game last season. According to Smith, Hill bragged to Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams about shutting down Smith after the 2006 contest.
"I wasn't surprised (by the comments)," Hill said. "I'm glad he did, because that made me practice harder and made me prepare. I was prepared for Steve Smith (Sunday). He knew that. He knew I wasn't going to back down to him. I just wish I could get that play back, because other than that, he didn't do nothing."
Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett would like that play back, too. The way the defense was set up, Hill would've gotten safety help in coverage had Smith released to the inside on the play. But Smith released outside, isolating Hill in one-on-one coverage.
"Tye played good leverage on it at the start," Haslett said. "But Steve beat him on the outside and (Hill) ended up trailing, and that's hard to do against that guy."
Whether or not Smith pushed off with his hands was inconsequential, Haslett said, because had Hill used proper technique and kept Smith in front of him, it wouldn't have mattered.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Coach Scott Linehan refused to second-guess himself Monday for not giving running back Steven Jackson any carries in the preseason.
"Steven was ready to play," Linehan said. "He played very well in the first half. ... He's always been great with the football in practice, and (with) all the touches he had all season last year. He had a tough two carries (Sunday). It's humbling for him. It's humbling for our team, and if we have the character I think we have, we'll bounce back."
Even minus the two fumbles, Jackson didn't get much done against a Carolina defense that once again figures to be among the league's best. He had a modest 58 yards rushing on 18 carries, and just 61 yards from scrimmage — his lowest total since the Rams played at Carolina last Nov. 19.
Around the NFL, almost all of the running backs who saw little or no preseason action got off to slow starts. San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson had 25 yards rushing on 17 carries; Kansas City's Larry Johnson had 10 carries for 43 yards; but Washington's Clinton Portis did have 98 yards on 17 carries.
— LT Orlando Pace is out for the season with a torn labrum, torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
— RG Richie Incognito aggravated an ankle injury last week in practice and probably is out for at least another week.
— LB Pisa Tinoisamoa was on crutches Monday at Rams Park with a right ankle injury; questionable for Sunday.
— WR Drew Bennett tested a quad injury Monday and is expected to play Sunday.
— DE Victor Adeyanju said his sprained knee is much better, and he expects to play Sunday.
Torry Holt's 3-yard reception Sunday marked only the third time in 17 games under Linehan that the Rams scored a touchdown on the game's opening possession.
"We got our butts kicked, and it doesn't feel good." — quarterback Marc Bulger
You think the "De" backs — DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster — were tough to stop? Well, here come Frank Gore and San Francisco. Gore led the NFC in rushing last season with 1,695 yards, surpassing 100 yards twice against St. Louis.